Health not Handcuffs banner - giving people a hand up, not a lock up
A window of opportunity to reform the way we treat people who use drugs is too important to miss, says the new Health Not Handcuffs campaign which launched today.
Seven public health and social justice organisations have combined to set up Health Not Handcuffs as a way for the people to express their support for a health approach to tackling New Zealand’s drug issues.
“We are really excited to launch this campaign to demonstrate widespread support among New Zealanders for significant reform to the outdated approach to drugs,” said Ross Bell, Executive Director of NZ Drug Foundation.
“With the Government soon to make key decisions on the wellbeing budget, the details about the cannabis referendum and how to respond to the Mental Health & Addictions Inquiry, there is now an opportunity for major transformation of New Zealand’s approach to drugs.
“We support the recommendation of the Mental Health & Addictions Inquiry to replace rather than tinker with the law by removing criminal penalties for all drugs and moving to a health-referral model.
“Details about the 2020 cannabis referendum and the Government’s preferred regulatory model are urgently needed to ensure people know what they’re voting for.
Each year an estimated 50,000 people are in need of treatment services that they aren’t currently receiving. Health Not Handcuffs has been set as way to show their support for change and talk about why this is important to them and their family, whānau and friends.
“We are calling on the Prime Minister to double investment in alcohol and other drug-related prevention, harm reduction and treatment in Budget 2019.
“We are inviting people to join Health not Handcuffs and add their voice in support of major investment in health and prevention, and significant reform to the law,” said Mr Bell.
The campaign will encourage people to talk with their whānau and friends about the cannabis referendum, share their reasons for drug law reform with MPs, and learn more about the issues.
The founding members of Health not Handcuffs are ActionStation, Hapai te Hauora, JustSpeak, Needle Exchange, the NZ Drug Foundation, Te Rau Ora and the Wellington Community Justice Project.
Survey participants also reported that barriers to accessing services, resources and information were high.
A group of powerful synthetic opioids that were first detected in the country just a year ago may have already been linked to several deaths.
95% of respondents reported positive effects, in a study that looked at both prescription and black market cannabis use.